By Terje Olsen
Golf in Brazil, in general, and in the metropolitan areas of São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, in particular, is still very much an elite sport. If you are used to the easy access to a golf course in Northern Europe and the US, you are now on new turf. If you are lucky enough to be living in a smaller city in Brazil, golf is a lot more accessible, provided, of course, that there is a club in town. Most local golfers in Brazil come from an economic class that prefers to pay a little more in order to belong to a club that is not overrun by people on weekends. This makes for expensive memberships, high maintenance costs and restricted access for visitors including expats.

In São Paulo and Rio access to golf courses is not very expensive compared to golf in other major cities in the world even though, with current exchange rate and the inflation of the last year or so, the cost has gone up a lot. Golfing, however, is more restricted and relatively expensive compared to what you will pay for other leisure activities in Brazil.

Golf Courses in the São Paulo Metropolitan Area

There are eighteen golf courses within easy reach of the most common residential areas in São Paulo. Six of these golf clubs are located in the metropolitan area of São Paulo, including the ABCD area, which can be reached within an hour (not counting traffic, of course).

Clube de Campo de São Paulo, City of São Paulo,
Guarapiranga Golf and Country Clube, City of São Paulo,
São Bernardo do Campo Golfe Clube, São Bernardo do Campo,
São Fernando Golf Clube, Cotia,
São Francisco Golf Clube, Osasco (9 holes),
São Paulo Golf Clube, City of São Paulo.

In addition, you will find another five clubs within 100 km of the area called Vale do Paraiba, i.e. along the Dutra/Carvalho Pinto highways going towards Rio which can be reached in a maximum of an hour and a half.

Aruj Golf Club, Aruj,
Blue Tree Park Resort (previously Paradise Golf Club), Magi dash Cruses,
Golf Club de São Jos, São Jos dos Campos (9 holes),
Internacional Golfe Clube dos 500, Guaratinguet (9 holes),
PL Golf Club, Aruj.

Within the same range, both in distance and time, along the Bandeirantes/Anhanguera and Castelo Branco towards Campinas and Sorocaba respectively, there are another five clubs.

Champs Priv Residence Country & Golfe, Campo Limpo (9 holes),
Clube de Golfe de Campinas, Campinas,
Lago Azul Golfe Clube, Sorocaba (9 holes),
Quinta da Baroneza Golf Club, Itatiba/Braganza Paulista,
Terra de São Jos Golfe Club, Itu.

Down on the coast, within the same distance, there are two courses.

Guarja Golf Club, Guaruj (9 holes),
Santos São Vicente Golf Club, São Vicente (9 holes).

There are a few private golf courses that will appear in the statistics as members of the São Paulo Golf Federation, but it would appear that the owners of these courses are the only members and, unless your are Bill Clinton or Sylvester Stallone, you may find it very hard to be invited. In addition to these courses/clubs around São Paulo there are half a dozen other scattered around the interior of the state of São Paulo.

Membership and Costs of Belonging to a Golf Club

In addition to golf courses there are a few driving ranges in São Paulo mostly along the major highways crossing the city (the Marginais). A special case that may be interesting for the expat community is the Golf Federation’s golf center close to the Congonhas Airport. In addition to a driving range, the center has a nine hole pitch and put course with holes ranging from 80 to 110 yards. To access the golf center, also known as the Kaiser Golf Center, is relatively inexpensive in comparison with what is said about green fee costs below.

The total cost of becoming a member of a golf club in São Paulo is rather high. A new member is required to buy a title from the club or from a member wishing to sell. The titles may not always be very expensive, at least in dollar terms. However, most clubs charge a significant fee for transferring the title into the new member’s name before you can use your title. The transfer fee, in Brazil called joia”, can often be many times more expensive than the title itself. When you sell the title you will in most cases make a profit but the joia is a sunk cost that you will not recover. This practice is not restricted to golf clubs but is common in most clubs. Normally, the total cost becomes prohibitive for most expats with a normal budget who will not stay in Brazil for more than the customary 2-4 years.

In some cases the club will sell you a “Right to Play” which is neither a title nor a “joia”. You will pay an upfront fee for playing as a “member” of the club for a specified period or indefinitely, depending on the club. This fee is also a sunk cost which you will not get back when you leave. Some clubs will also accept you as a “Green-fee member”. In this case you only pay the monthly maintenance fees of the club but at a higher rate than a title carrying member.

Access to play at São Paulo golf clubs without being a member is, with few exceptions, severely restricted. Some will only allow green fee guests if invited and accompanied by a member. Some allow green fee guests on certain days of the week. The green fee ranges from R$100 during the week and R$200 plus during the weekend and some will give a discount if you play in the afternoon. Some require you to have a caddy which will set you back another R$ 30-40. Renting a golf car, when available, costs about R$ 70-80.

It is getting crowded on the golf courses that are open for green fee guests. While a few years ago, you could easily show up on a Saturday or Sunday morning and expect to tee off without much of a wait, today you should most definitely reserve a tee time in advance. You may be lucky and get on fairly quickly but then again you may not.

There is a lot of talk about golf being a very fast growing sport in Brazil. It is, but in a very uneven way. The number of Asian players is growing very rapidly. The number of expats has dwindled in the last couple of years with the reduction in foreign managers and executives. The big question is what is happening to the number of non-Asian local players and it is my impression that it is increasing but very slowly.

Many new golf courses are being built in Brazil but only in condominiums and resort areas far from São Paulo. The Brazilian tourism authorities have finally discovered that there are many tourists that would not consider traveling to a resort area that does not have a golf course close by. Of the clubs within easy reach of São Paulo listed below only three, Blue Tree Park in Mogi das Cruzes (resort), Champs Priv in Campo Limpo (condominium) and Quinta da Baroneza in Itatiba (condominium), have been built in the last seven years. There are many real estate projects in the works in the area with golf course as part of the condominium but until now only one quality golf course, Quinta da Baroneza in Itatiba has been built.

The golf courses are not always easy to find. A friend of mine took three attempts to find Campinas Golf Club before succeeding. Signs are rare and few people know where they are even if your Portuguese is good enough to stop and ask. The first time you visit a new course you are well advised to get good instructions before leaving.

Most of the golf courses are good golf courses and will be a challenge to you, if not for their design, for some other unknown difficulty. The greatest difficulty is that most courses don’t have Bermuda type grass on the fairways but local grass types which are a lot harder to hit off.

For the golf experts among you, the following ranking of Brazil’s golf courses was provided by Golf Digest recently:

1. Ilha de Comandatuba (Ocean), Bahia,
2. São Fernando Golf Club, São Paulo,
3. Gvea G. & C.C., Rio de Janeiro,
4. São Paulo Golf Club, São Paulo,
5. Itanhanga G.C., Rio de Janeiro,
6. Alphaville Graciosa G.C., Curitiba, Parana,
7. Porto Alegre C.C., Porto Alegre, Rio Grande do Sul,
8. Clube Curitibano, Curitiba, Parana,
9. Guarapiranga Golf and Country Club, São Paulo,
10. Quinta da Baroneza Golf Club, Bragana Paulista, São Paulo.

In a later article, I will cover in more detail the existing golf courses, how they are, where they are, how you can join and which ones can be played by green fee guests. In addition, I will give some more information on the driving ranges in the area.

I hope that you all will find a way of continuing your golf career while in Brazil. If you have any questions about golfing in São Paulo and surroundings, please feel free to e-mail me.

Terje Olsen is a Norwegian golfer living in Campinas and São Paulo with 30 years expat experience from Brazil, Colombia, Italy, Argentina, Venezuela and other countries..terjeolsen@terra.com.br

By Hunter Mondavi
I was excited and kind of surprised when I arrived in Florianopolis and was told that to get to my school I could walk, take the bus, or hitchhike. After noticing the heat, distance, hills, and realizing that busses are few and far between, I opted to hitchhike. Also, I planned to see far more places further away than just the school, so that was really the best option.
When I was younger I heard stories of my father hitchhiking. He actually hitchhiked from the Jersey Shore to Cleveland, Ohio to ask my Mom to marry him when he was 19 years old.
He said the start was kind of hard; all alone in the cold in the middle of the night on some highway in Pennsylvania with cars speeding by you and nobody stopping. But he got lucky about halfway through Pennsylvania. Some trucker picked him up and drove him almost the whole way to Cleveland. The trucker turned out to be a really nice guy (or maybe lonely himself) and he had a bed in the cab so he basically told my dad to go back there and let him sleep while he drove. This random act of kindness by the trucker had a big enough impact for my Dad to tell me the story. I wonder if that trucker ever thought back about this or even realized what he did.
Hitchhiking in a foreign country can be an interesting experience and is not a bad way to
meet people and practice the language. But I did not know that regional differences existed, so first I had to learn how to do it here. To understand the tactic, you should first know that in Brazil the thumbs-up” sign is a normal part of almost every conversation, so just sticking your arm out on the side of the road and putting your thumb up does not get the point across. I found this out when people in the cars driving by would just give me a thumbs-up back. (What did they think?… I was just standing there on the road to wish everybody a good day at work!?)
So because of this, hitchhiking in Brazil looks a bit different. I learned after a few times that what you need to do is basically stand as close as you can to the cars passing by as if you are going to jump in front of them if they don’t stop. It also helps to stand in front of a
speed bump or stop sign (I think this is so if you DO get in front of them, and they DON’T stop, the damage will be less). But the best part of Brazilian hitchhiking is the hand movement. Instead of just sticking out your arm with your thumb up, you repeatedly pump your fist in the direction you want to go. It looks like some goofy dance from the 50’s or something. Or to be more descriptive, sort of like what you might do if you were really drunk and stranded and your annoyed sober friend was arriving in his car to pick you up on some dark road… and to get a laugh out of him, you were pretending to hitchhike in the
funniest way possible.
But when I first went out to hitchhike in Brazil, I approached it as a marketing exercise. What kind of clothes, facial expression, posture, etc. would get me picked up so that I can get to my destination fastest? (There are so many opportunities to use trial and error in
hitchhiking… depending on the traffic. But maybe sometimes I tried different tactics just to pass the time). Anyway, after testing various approaches, I learned that you have very little control over your fate in hitchhiking and it is instead, a “numbers” game. You are basically
looking for a certain person, and if you stand there long enough, the odds are that this person will pass by.
So here is how the “weeding out” works: You start with your pool of drivers who will be passing you by, which is your entire market. You then eliminate all of the people on motorcycles (they might pick you up, but the way these guys drive here you are better off walking), you take away the people with full cars (they always give you that “sorry, no
room” gesture that you know is BS… b/c they wouldn’t stop anyway), then you take away the women (everyone knows it is not lady like to pick up male hitchhikers), and forget about the old people (they have read too many “hitchhiker-gone-wrong” news stories in their lives), you get rid of all the people that are not going much further or are making a quick turn after you (they try a gesture also, sometimes), then you take away all
of the people that are late for something (this is a lot, we know that nobody ever allows ample time), and lastly you remove all of those people that just “never pick up hitchhikers” (that excludes even more than the late ones) and you are left with waiting for a guy in his 20’s or 30’s who is not late, has some room, picks up hitchhikers (most likely because he was once one himself not long ago), and thinks you look like somebody that won’t hurt him or his car. And if you stand there long enough, that guy will pass by.
Anyway, I think everyone should have to hitchhike for a period in their life as a part of education. It teaches you something about hopelessness and persistence… because no matter how many cars pass you by, eventually somebody will stop and you will get there.
And there are hopeful exceptions to my rules of hitchhiking. The other day I was picked up by a young couple with two sleeping babies in car seats in the back. They had little room and had every right to give me the “sorry” gesture… not only was their car full but they had their kids with them. But thank god for them because I sort of got myself in a jam at
that point and it was late and I was lost in a place that was really far from anything (another, “another story”). Anyway, they passed me and it took them a while down the road to stop. I felt that one of them suggested they pick me up, and the other at first didn’t agree. (In hindsight, I actually think it was the woman who convinced her husband
to stop, as the husband was driving, so he probably would have just pulled the car over directly himself). Anyway, there I was squeezed between two sleeping babies in car seats in the back middle hump trying to explain to them how I had gotten in this predicament. They were interested and curious enough in hearing my story that they drove me all
the way home (which was fortunate because I couldn’t even pronounce where I lived at that
point). They were obviously poor by the looks of things and I could see that they were low on gas… so I wanted to give them money for going out of their way… but I was sure they would not accept it. So before they got to my street I left all I had in my wallet on the side of one of the baby’s car seats where they would find it later when they picked up their son… It was not that much by American standards, but I am pretty sure it would have been helpful to them… And maybe even one day they will tell their son about the American hitchhiker they picked up once…….. I guess that was for the trucker…

If you have any comments on this article, or would like to submit a similar piece on life in Brazil, please send to copydesk@www.gringoes.com

By Denise Resendez
On January 25th São Paulo commemorated its 450th anniversary. This mega-metropolis of over 16,000,000 boasts the fourth largest population in the world. An impressively expanding city, industrious São Paulo shoulders Brazil’s economy. With revenue steadily on the incline, the city’s wingspan stretches. No wonder 600,000 people commute into São Paulo daily to work and/or study. With so much history and burgeoning development, São Paulo’s ego seemingly deserves its bragging rights this birthday.
Like any city would, São Paulo scheduled varied events. Its proud inhabitants were inclined to welcome this day with as much fireworks and hoopla as possible. Radio announcements, newspaper features, and talk surrounding the festivities to mark the occasion infiltrated every ounce of personal space. Brazilian icon and musical hero, Caetano Veloso gave a free street concert. There were parades, innumerous art exhibits, parties galore, and even a race.
Living and working in São Paulo the last 4 years has afforded me an adopted Paulista” pride. I had been contemplating what event to attend that weekend as my wiper blades swooshed back and forth in a perpetual lulling motion. Approaching the stoplight, the rain had made me think beyond the traffic. Then through the heavy São Paulo downpour, in perfect tune with the red light, I saw someone step purposefully onto the street.
She stood commandingly (facing) the oncoming rush hour evening traffic as if she were getting ready to greet tourists at the airport.
A small child, maybe seven years at most glowed with dewy olive skin. Shoulder length curls hung around her face like wet spiral spaghetti. My headlights became spotlights. Standing barefoot on her imaginary stage, wearing a tired smile and a stretched-out sopping wet t-shirt four sizes too big, she hoped to earn more than oversight. She was “working”.
Twirling her baton-like devil sticks, I imagined her performing in a circus act dressed in a pink ballerina outfit. She accidentally dropped her sticks. She wasn’t the greatest twirler but then again she was very young.
Recently O Estado De São Paulo newspaper reported that Brazil has three million children on the streets and more than five million working children. Of that number 22% do not attend school, according to Juan Miguel Petit, of the United Nations Human Rights Commission on Child Prostitution, Pornography and Trafficking. The numbers are staggering and incredulous. However, most major intersections in São Paulo present this concrete reality. Countless “Paulistas” drive with their windows rolled up. Too many have been victims of car muggings at stoplights. Moreover, it’s not unheard of for a child to possess a gun or knife and use it.
The child I saw, like most I encounter, did not carry a weapon. I thought about rescuing her, about how good I have it, about São Paulo and myself celebrating its virtuosities and how inhumane it is for her to be on the street. And I reminded myself that she is doing exactly what she’s forced to. She’s long since realized that a strong work ethic is necessary if you live on AND off the mean streets. It’s survival of the fittest out there.
According to my paradigms, this little girl should be tucked in a warm bed, be well-fed, loved, attending school and leading a happy life. Unfortunately, she is not alone in her story. For too many impoverished Brazilian children realities are harsh and survival is a struggle.
Although it’s an everyday sight in São Paulo to see impoverished, hungry children twirling devil sticks, washing your windshield, selling candy, or simply begging, it doesn’t negate the urgency at hand. The poignant visual serves as a reminder that São Paulo, a city of social, political and stark economic contrasts, has ardent tasks ahead.
Together, these five million street children comprise that singular poster child that São Paulo and the rest of Brazil must acknowledge. Until then the “yellow brick road” remains buried in storybooks.
Several magazine and newspaper features begged the question, “What will São Paulo be like in fifty years”? For me the only question is, “What will the city’s next celebration boast?
I look forward to São Paulo’s economic growth and political development with profound hope. My time here has been filled with treasured encounters of people whose energy and drive match the samba beats of Carnaval. Brazilians are an amazing people. Innately passionate and magnetically happy, they are eager to rid Brazil’s plaguing social ills. Their genuine desire and growing consciousness to eradicate unemployment, hunger and poverty is evident.
When the city blew out its candles this birthday, I not so secretly hoped that in 50 years street side children and their devil sticks would be a thing of the past. along with the rest of the São Paulo’s dueling contrasts.

If you have any comments on this article, or would like to submit a similar piece on life in Brazil, please send to copydesk@www.gringoes.com

By Ana Cristina Duarte
Having a baby is a difficult task anywhere in the world. The name says it all – labor! During pregnancy the couple must educate themselves, know their options, learn the importance of a safe and pleasant childbirth. In Brazil, however, the task can be even harder.

To have a baby in Brazil requires patience, persistence and preparation. In private hospitals the Caesarean rates range from 70 to 90%. The so-called normal birth”, when it happens is packed with medical procedures, with routine use of epidural, pitocin and episiotomy.

It is almost impossible to have a waterbirth here, especially in hospitals. Verticalized birth is also rare and the majority of doctors prefer women to lie on their backs and use the stirrups. Fasting is an almost compulsory item and in many hospitals tricotomy (pubic hair shaving) is still a rule.

Some hospitals have LDR (Labour and Delivery Rooms), however they are generally inside “Obstetric Centers”, which means you need to use sterilized clothes, only one relative or friend allowed, and even no doulas allowed. In some states and cities even husbands are forbidden from entering the obstetric centers.

Many doctors prefer Caesareans as they are faster and more practical, generally opting to schelule them ahead of time, to prevent being called on at an inconvient time. Another problem is the academic education of health care providers, which favors C-sections when labor doesn’t follow the normal standards.

However for those who want to search and are anxious for a natural childbirth, there are good doctors out there, there are homebirth options assisted by doctors or nurse midwives, there are doulas, there are very conscientous childbirth educators, there are hospitals with an adjusted structure to attend natural childbirths, being also receptive to the presence of more than one relative and/or a doula in the LDR, and finally, there are doctors and midwives who offer a differentiated childbirth assistance.

Choosing Your Childbirth

There is a Brazilian website with lots of articles on the subject www.amigasdoparto.com.br. Although it is in Portuguese, there are some articles and links in English which can work as a reference. The list of natural-childbirth-friendly-doctors can help you to find a good health provider. The website www.doulas.com.br offers referralls for doulas all over the country.

You can also try to find out if your current doctor is an “elective or convenience c-section adept” asking his/her secretary. If the majority of the women had c-section, then you will probably have one.

Another option is to get in touch with people from your foreign community who have had a baby here, find out who had natural childbirth, and ask who their doctors are. You must also make a good birth plan, explaining in details everything you want for your birth. Look for a Childbirth Educator who can speak your language if you need help.

Try to visit maternities where you could have your birth, ask a lot of details from the nursing staff, about what is and what isn`t possible. Ask who is allowed in the LDR, in what situations it won’t be possible to use the LDR, what you will be able to take with you, if you can use your own clothes, if you can have a doula and your husband, etc..

But the most important tip is: ask your doctor many questions. Discuss all the procedures, discuss all your options. Impose your desires and be sure to be understood. And if he or she isn`t receptive, change doctors. It is your birth, it is your responsibility. Know that: yes, it is possible to have a positive childbirth experience in Brazil, but not without some effort!

Ana Cristina Duarte is a Doula and Childbirth Educator. She can be reached at Tel: (11) 9806-7090

E-mail: duarte00@osite.com.br

Website: www.doulas.com.br

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By Melody Lee
Up until my college years, I had a jaded view of transportation and traffic. Taking public transportation either meant you were homeless and scrounged up enough change for bus fare, or it meant you were a state worker being transported from middle-class home to your office downtown. Heavy traffic on the freeway meant you got to your destination 10 minutes later than normal.
When I moved to San Francisco for college, I abandoned all driving privileges and relied solely on public transportation. I became a bus guru, navigating around the city with a tattered, well-used bus map. My roommate and I explored all the bus routes, finding ourselves in areas that my native San Franciscan friends had never even heard of.
However, all the ticket stubs and color-coded subway lines could never prepare me for six months spent among the monstrous tangle of highways, cars, and buses of São Paulo. I experienced a transportation culture shock, and all my prideful wisdom about traffic and public transportation became useless.
Traffic never seems light in São Paulo. All the cars are small, which allows the highways to be crammed. The more the merrier, right? Cars are often mere inches from one another. Surface streets aren’t accommodating to passengers, either. Potholes, uprooted concrete, and shredded tires are typical on every street.
The drive to work often took an hour, sometimes two, depending on traffic. On Mondays, the drive would be longer due to the rodizio.” Depending on the last digit of the license plate, drivers are prohibited from driving in highly trafficked areas on a specific day during certain hours. My ride ignored these rules and took back roads. Once we reached a main road, she’d zoom past the traffic monitors who were hastily scribbling license numbers of the rodizio delinquents.
The bus system was another story. For starters, people laughed when I asked for a bus map. Can 2.5 million daily bus riders really get around without any sort of map? My co-workers carefully planned out a route for me, filling in as many blanks as possible.
“You have to hail the bus,” they told me. “Or else, it won’t stop for you.”
Hail a bus? Don’t they just stop at their designated points? Riding the bus São Paulo style means stepping out to the curb and holding your hand out when your bus approaches. Hail it too late and you’ll end up waiting anywhere from a few minutes to nearly an hour for the next bus.
Finding the correct bus is another challenge. One day I got on a bus labeled “Santo Amaro.” A few days later, I saw another bus also labeled “Santo Amaro” at the exact same stop, but it took me to a different destination. Little did I know that the bus route was determined by the number-not the name-of the bus line. To make things more confusing, the bus could drop you off at one stop going one direction, and then take a completely different route on the way back-not even passing near the stop where it previously let you off.
Upon entering the bus, a “ticket agent” seated on your left takes your ticket before granting you entry through the turnstile. While elderly passengers sit up front close to the driver, adolescents often slide under the turnstile to avoid payment and proceed to the back of the bus.
After hearing so much about muggings in Brazil, I always kept my backpack close to my chest while riding on the bus. However, bus etiquette meant that seated passengers offered to hold the bags of those standing next to them. At first this made me suspicious, but I soon noticed that this was common practice. After awhile, I found myself offering to hold the bags of passengers around me if I was seated.
Rainy days (and there are many) in São Paulo meant traffic was ten times worse than it was on normal days. I recall one particularly stormy day that started off sunny. Cars were stalled in intersections with the water level reaching halfway up the side of their cars. People were huddled under storefronts to wait for the storm to pass.
I was riding the bus that day and had no other option but to endure the storm to get home. I stepped off the bus into a torrent of rainwater, rushing down the street. There was no way to stay dry. As I walked home, my jeans became heavier and heavier, and all I could think about was keeping my camera dry in my backpack. I took off my socks and shoes to walk in knee-level water, and I climbed on the rungs of a low fence to carry myself over deeper water. To top it all, the electricity was out at my apartment complex, which meant walking up nine flights of stairs. When I finally reached the apartment, I stood in the doorway, shivering, dripping, just trying to catch my breath.
But I made it. I had survived. I soon realized that it was more than just surviving one stormy day. I could ride the bus without looking like a foreigner and was even able to ask directions from my fellow bus riders. I could hail the right bus and transfer to the next one flawlessly. Now, I could truly say that I’m a public transportation system guru.

If you have any comments on this article, or would like to submit a similar piece on life in Brazil, please send to copydesk@www.gringoes.com

By Mark Steinbach
Fortaleza is really a beautiful place and the surroundings have a lot to offer. We got there quite late at night, because of our connection via São Paulo and Brasilia was delayed. The Fortaleza airport is new, but quite far from the centre and the drive to our hosts beach-front home took about 40mins. It is a massive property at least a couple of acres and has palm trees all over as well as a huge pool. Fortaleza has a great beachfront with a huge promenade, beach and a waterfront area with bars and restaurants. In typical Brazilian fashion there is always music playing and something going on. Every evening there is a flee market at the beach so we managed to pick up a couple of souvenirs (dust collectors) and left it at that.

The following day we went to Praia do Futuro (Beach of the Future) on the east coast of Fortaleza. The beaches here are massive, very wide and this particular one had a restaurant, bar, swimming pool and a couple of shops right on the beach. There is no entrance fee, you just get in sit down under the palm trees and get served whatever you want – prices are not unreasonable.
On our way home we went for a radical dune buggy ride, the four of us packed onto the buggy and the driver took us around and over the dunes. At times it felt like being in a roller coaster, but a tight grip on the roll-bar was good enough. We all tried our hand at ski-bunda (skiing down the dune on a plank sitting on your ass…)
We spent the evening at a restaurant, with some Americans and a Brazilian – as well as a beer tap at our table. The food was great and the huge umbrellas shaded us from the tropical downpour. After 11 litres we called it a night…

On Sunday we followed a guide in his beach buggy with our 4×4 (a courtesy car) along some beautiful beaches, stopping along the way to enjoy the great seafood specialties – I enjoyed some very tasty land morsel (could have been any of the wild donkey’s in the area). After our guide and hung-over American tourists decided to call it a day, our trusty friend still recommended us to see Canoa Quebrada beach (Broken Canoe Beach), which was according to our guide Marcus, only a 30 minute ride. Anyway, after more than an hour including swerving and dodging potholes the size of car tires we also managed not to flatten any of the wild donkeys, we arrived at Canoa Quebrada. The drive was well worth it and we took a walk through the town and onto the beach. We still managed to get the last bit of the sunset before we headed home with our eyes peeled in order not to add to the donkey road kill average and keep our shocks in tact – Juliana was on pothole patrol while Pascal and Lee alternated on wild Donkey watch – I was trying to drive…
On Monday we found our way to the Beach park which is also on the eastern side of Fortaleza and spent most of the day going from slide to slide, having some lunch on the beach and swimming in the sea. Here the sea water is actually warm and there is no need for a wetsuit… (I know I should not complain but sometimes it’s nearly too warm…a bit like the kiddies pool)

On Tuesday we headed west of Fortelza, towards Jericoacoara (supposedly means crocodile sunning itself). It’s about 300kms from Fortaleza and we stopped at Munda for one night. We found an Inn right on the beach – and managed to have the whole place to ourselves. We spent the rest of the day driving around the dunes and visiting some other beaches nearby before enjoying another dinner and washed it down with some beers.
The following day we still had about 150kms to go until Jericoacoara. We managed to get to Jijoca before we needed a couple of guides follow us for kilometers on their bikes in order to show us the way to Jericoacoara. Jeri (this is how the locals refer to it) can only be reached with a 4×4 as you have to cross over the dunes and through some big puddles. After heckling us long enough we bargained a price with one the guides – so him and a mate grabbed their bike and showed us the way. The drive there took about 40 minutes over the dunes, around lagoons and along the beach. We got into Jeri late afternoon and still enjoyed the sunset from one of the massive dunes. Watching the sunset from there seems to be a regular thing and around 5:30 pm everyone treks up the dunes and before the sun sets the locals provide the entertainment by doing backflips down the 30 meter dune or renting sandboards to locals. The whole of Jeri is just beach roads, with gift shops, bars and restaurants. There is a lot to offer there, horseback riding for 10 Reais (US$3.00) an hour – they just give you the horse, no guide required… we took a 5 hour dune buggy ride and visited nearby lagoons, went boarding down some dunes… The famous hole in the wall, was according to a local, a 2km walk along the beach – so we grabbed our cameras, Lee rented a horse and started to walk. What we thought would be a nice stroll along the beach barefoot, soon turned into a climb over this rock, wade through that water and don’t step into the donkey shit hike – Lee turned back coz the horse got tired – but we managed, got our photos, so now we’ve been there and done that.

If you have ever seen a picture at a travel agent with a couple of palm trees arching over the beach…it might just be Jericoacoara.

By Bernard C. Rangel
In a recent article entitled ‘At 450, São Paulo Is Full of Energy’* published in the New York Times, February 22, 2004, written by Simon Romero, a correspondent for the Times, a very worthy opinion penned by a visiting journalist of our cosmopolitan city was registered for the world to read. His insight into São Paulo’s lifestyle, cuisine, art, architecture, its people (all 18 million of us), its humble Jesuit beginnings, its age, its immigrants, its size, and most remarkably how this mix works very well together was well observed by him.
There is a catch 22 here of course. He already lived and worked here in São Paulo and of course his wife is Brazilian, he’s most probably been under her thumb ever since she caught him. In the good sense I mean. I particularly have a very high esteem for Brazilian women. I after all have been in this marvelous continent-size country for 19 years now and I still love every minute of it.
No shitting, I kid you not, even when I’m running up and down the DETRAN steps for the hundredth time, I smile at the marvel of it all. It is simply breath taking and mind-boggling as to how the city all moves so well synchronized at its own speed, in the sun or rain, it moves, it actually moves.
I welcome any of you readers to contribute positively or negatively with your personal accounts of this unique metropolis of ours. Most importantly our above-mentioned journalist did www.gringoes.com proud with an honorary mention in his article, as a portal source of where to go and what to do for foreigners on the verge of being overcome like Alice lost in Wonderland. Tea any one! Tea oh my! Is it time for tea already! Imagine if Lewis Carroll were Brazilian it definitely would be, ‘Ta na hora meu, cade meu caf!’
It was interesting that this past carnival was rained out; in fact almost all of Brazil was washed out. There was some real serious damage done, roads and bridges washed away, houses submerged, and the people were not too pleased about the economic situation either. No money to burn on festivities, but they still had a good time, for they found time to smile and dance, and not burn the barricades as the French would do, or throw tea into the harbor because of more representation, or behead a king because he was a catholic. We have a lesson to learn here somehow.
On that note though, surprisingly enough, the São Paulo samba school that won the parade at the Sambodromo focused their school’s theme on the immigrants that have made São Paulo what it is today after 450 years of existence. There is a twist there somewhere.
Yes, yes, São Paulo has it all. It has all it deserves, and yes it has www.gringoes.com too. Please enjoy and come join us on March 17th at the nightclub Nauty for Mexican tequilas and a get together to bring in 2004 with a real bang.

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